1. Pregnancy
  2. Dads Guide to Pregnancy
  3. Late pregnancy

Pregnancy complications in the third trimester: for dads

For some men, pregnancy complications in the third trimester can make for a worrying and stressful time.

Pregnancy complications

If your partner has a high-risk pregnancy or health concerns, the final months might not be the exciting countdown you expected. Instead, you and your partner might be going through a lot of worry and frustration.

Common pregnancy complications in the third trimester include:

  • pre-eclampsia
  • gestational diabetes
  • too much or too little fluid around your baby
  • your baby not growing as expected
  • your baby sitting in an unusual position
  • a problem with the placenta.

It can be particularly tough if you’ve had a previous pregnancy loss or complication.

Your partner might be in hospital or having regular visits to doctors or an antenatal clinic to monitor her health and the baby’s health. If your partner needs to go into hospital for bed rest, monitoring or other reasons, it can be an anxious and scary time for both of you.

In this situation, you might feel that the pregnancy has been taken over by medical staff and that it doesn’t ‘belong’ to you anymore.

Some men also need to pick up more responsibilities at home, like cleaning, cooking and caring for other children. And in some cases, your baby might arrive earlier than expected, and you suddenly find yourself dad to a premature baby.

All of a sudden it’s very, very medical. A lot of men have a real sense of helplessness – particularly if they’re going to be first-time parents. They need their partner to be OK, and we have to say, ‘Actually she’s going to be unwell for a little while’. They’re often not prepared for that.
– Midwife

Getting ‘answers’ and information about pregnancy complications

If your partner has a pregnancy complication, you might want to find out everything you can.

You can start by talking to the health professionals who are caring for your partner. They should also be able to point you towards brochures, websites and organisations that can give you more information. Some hospitals have libraries or information centres too.

If you keep a list of questions, it will help you focus your conversations with health professionals. Don’t worry about asking ‘dumb’ questions. If you’re confused about what’s happening, it’s a good idea to ask.

Also ask your partner how you can best support her. You might be able to do things to make her more comfortable – for example, giving her a massage or bringing in her favourite meal.

Depending on how your partner is going medically, you might need to advocate or communicate with health professionals on her behalf.

Getting support when there are pregnancy complications

As with any stressful life situation, support from trusted family and friends can play a big part in helping you and your partner cope with pregnancy complications.

If people offer to help, it’s OK to say yes. For example, if someone cooks you a meal or does some shopping for you, it can take the pressure off and give you more time with your partner.

Taking things one day at a time might help you feel more in control and see things more clearly.

Sharing what you’re going through with a trusted family member or friend can also help. But if you find that you’re worrying a lot or even feeling depressed, you might need professional support.

If things are tough and you need help or someone to listen to what you’re going through, you could try calling Lifeline on 131 114 or MensLine on 1300 789 978.

Things you can do

  • Try to accept offers of practical help, and take things one day at a time.
  • Share what you’re going through with a trusted family member or friend.
  • If you’re worrying a lot or even feeling depressed, you might need professional help. You can also read our article on antenatal and postnatal depression in men.
  • Take care of yourself by eating healthy foods and getting some exercise. Avoid heavy drinking and burying yourself in work.
  • If it looks like you might be a dad earlier than expected, read more about premature babies.

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Last updated or reviewed
13-10-2017

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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